Are you over-committed? Is self-esteem a critical issue for you? Do you ever feel as if you might be exposed as an impostor? Do you get easily embarrassed? Do you ever tell ‘white’ lies? Are you jealous of other people? Do you avoid certain people?
Do you find it hard to invite people to church, even at Christmas?
I answer ‘yes’ to far too many of the above, so I’ve found a remarkable little book by Edward Welch called When People are Big and God is Small to be very helpful.
In this book, Welch explores the omnipresent issue of self-esteem in the light of Christ. His argument is that our problem is that we tend to fear people more than we fear God.
- We fear people because they can explore and humiliate us (shame-fear).
- We fear people because they can reject, ridicule or despise us (rejection-fear).
- We fear people because they can attack, oppress, or threaten us (threat-fear).
Along the way, Welch charges that when we fear people rather than God, we show that
- …we need people (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God).
- …we are more concerned with looking stupid (a fear of people) than we are about acting sinfully (fear of the Lord).
The good news is that there is hope. Jesus Christ himself comes into our little world of people-fear. He walks in it, feels its weight. Jesus comes to bear away our guilt so that we may be holy and without shame. Jesus comes to win our acceptance by God so that we may be unafraid of rejection and ridicule by the unimportant. Jesus comes to conquer death so that we may have a glorious future that assuages our fear of harm.
This is a great book – and a great theme – for Christmas.